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Princeton is using the arts to promote inclusion instead of division

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Princeton is using the arts to promote inclusion instead of division

Princeton Arts Council Teacher Ray Brown paints portraiture in front of the Paul Robeson Center. (Photo by Rebecca Nowalski)

Local artists and organizations in Princeton are using the visual arts as a way to fight against racism.

Through an “Art Against Racism” group exhibition multiple local venues in town will showcase art exhibits and events in the month of September. The exhibit will feature work to be shown at participating organizations and businesses.

“Unfortunately, due to the current environment of hatred ‘Art Against Racism’ is very timely,” said Rhinold Ponder, one of the organizers of the event. “It is about bringing people together to encourage others to understand how racism hurts us all both systemically and in our personal lives, it is a call designed to encourage anti-racist action on every level and to help worthy causes and artists in the process.”

Officials said exhibit sites include The Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, the Arts Council of Princeton, Princeton United Methodist Church and Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton.

“Art Against Racism” is one of several events participating in the Create Core Courage Annual Social Justice Art Events, which is focused on bringing attention to the continuing need for social and institutional change through the arts,” Ponder said.

Create Core Courage Annual Social Justice Art Events occur in October, according to officials.

The exhibit and events for “Art Against Racism” will take place from Sept. 20-30.

Several events have been planned to support the exhibit include interdenominational breakfasts between members of black, latino and predominantly white churches, desegregating what has been called “the most segregated hour in America.”

The other events are a poetry reading, a talk on reparations and an anti-racism drag show.

“Our Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice is all at once honored and inspired to organize this event with Rhinold [Ponder]. Racism is so engrained in our collective consciousness, meaningful connections like this allow us to see how all our communities can come together in a creative and meaningful way to recognize and break down the institutional and foundational nature of it,” said Robt Seda-Schreiber, chief activist of the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice. “The intersectional aspect of this work is the very essence of our mission and of our being of service to the people.”

The exhibit and events are organized by Ponder, Seda-Schreiber and art curator and activist Ruthann Traylor of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton.

The events will begin with an Art Against Racism opening reception and artists talk on Sept. 20 and will be hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Church.

On Sept. 22, several churches will participate in interdenominational breakfasts, bringing together congregants from multi-cultural churches with members of predominantly white churches.

Local literary artists will perform at a poetry event at the Arts Council of Princeton on Sept. 27 and the Bayard Rustin Center will present “Racism Is A Drag” a performance by drag queens on Sept. 28.

This proceeds raised by “Art Against Racism” will be donated to the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, which is a community activist center for LGBTQ+ kids, intersectional families and community members.

For more information about the events and exhibits at Art Against Racism, email artagainstracism@gmail.com.

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